Lionel Messi wins record fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or | inside World Soccer

Aged just 25, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has become the first player ever to scoop the Ballon d'Or award on four occasions.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi receives the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 trophy
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi receives the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012 trophy

Photo: Getty Images

The Argentina superstar was handed the honour on Monday at Kongresshaus Zürich, beating his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Barcelona teammate Andrés Iniesta.

Messi received 41.60 percent of the points in votes by national team coaches and captains plus selected media, with Ronaldo taking 23.68 percent and Iniesta 10.91 percent.

La Pulga enjoyed a remarkable 2012 even by his own high standards, most notably surpassing Gerd Müller's 40-year-old record with 91 goals in a calendar year over 69 matches.

Although he missed out on both the La Liga and Champions League crowns, Messi racked up a host of personal achievements last year.

He scored an unprecedented 50 goals in a La Liga season, a record 14 goals in a Champions League season and became the first player to score five times in a Champions League match.

An emotional Messi, wearing a polka-dotted dinner jacket and matching bow tie, said: "To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words.

"I would like to recognise my other colleagues from Barcelona: Andrés, it's been a great honour to be alongside you, not only today but to train alongside you and play alongside you.

"I would also like to recognise all of my friends from the Argentinean national team, and just everybody that's been involved with me, coaches and staff.

"I want to thank my friends and family, and especially my wife and son, who is the nicest thing God has gave me."

Zinedine Zidane of France and Ronaldo of Brazil were voted FIFA Player of the Year three times before the award merged in 2010 with France Football's Ballon d'Or.

Michel Platini of France and Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten of the Netherlands all won the old Ballon d'Or trophy for European footballer of the year three times.

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